The Struggle in the East: Opposition Politics in Siberia, 1918

Susan Rupp


In comparison with the events of 1917, the Russian Civil War has been little studied, resulting in a problematic historiography that depicts the war as a struggle between Reds and Whites, with the opposition to the Bolsheviks reduced to reactionary officers and restorationist political forces. Soviet historians long made a virtual industry out of studying the civil war, but their work was most often distorted by the constraints of Marxist theory and party orthodoxy. Most Western studies of the political opposition focus on a single party and are often limited to the period prior to the outbreak of the civil war. Over the last decade, dramatic political changes in the former Soviet Union, accompanied by the opening of previously inaccessible archives, have spurred renewed interest in the revolutionary period and the various political groups active during that time. This examination of the opposition in Siberia prior to the Kolchak coup in November 1918 addresses a seldom explored chapter of the civil war and reveals the divisions among the forces of the political center, particularly the fracture between moderate socialists and erstwhile liberals, which fatally undermined the viability of a democratic alternative to the Bolshevik regime.

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